Updated: October 02, 2019 10:47 PM
Created: October 02, 2019 10:46 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- For the first time in more than 30 years, the Minnesota House of Representatives is bringing the legislature to the people; making sure those living outside of the metro area have the chance to be heard.
A three-day mini-session is underway. More than 100 members are getting together in Winona and holding public hearings throughout southeastern communities.
Wednesday evening, Representatives were in Rochester talking about the price of prescription drugs.
Pharmacists and physicians had the chance to weigh in on the matter.
“Rebates are rarely –if ever – passed on to the end payer to decrease the cost of healthcare and that’s a crime,” said Deborah Keaveny, Owner of Keaveny Drug. “With 89% of my business, the price is dictated by a third party.”
High prescription drug prices also impact thousands of Minnesotans who rely on medication to survive.
“We have very few manufacturers who kind of have a monopoly, patents keep getting renewed,” said Representative Tina Liebling, Chair of the Health and Human Services Policy Committee. “It sets up a recipe for the exploitation of patients.”
A potential solution that was presented at the meeting is establishing nonprofit generic drug companies to increase supply at lower prices.
“Civica Rx is looking at making drugs that are in short supply. They have committed to making 17 drugs that will be available in the next 6 months,” said Dr. Eric Tichy, the Vice-Chair of Pharmacy Supply Solutions at Mayo Clinic. “As large as Mayo Clinic is, it's not nearly large enough to establish those types of relationships with manufacturers or even consider making its manufacturing facilities, so by working with thousands of other hospitals we can gain that scale and have enough market power to do that.”
However, to see real change, some of it falls on state government.
In the last session, several bills were introduced to combat high drug prices. One requires manufacturers to give information about why they are raising prices. Another takes the transparency further; allowing the state to step in and say "No" to a price increase. A third uses the buying power of the state to drive down prices.
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